Happy John Dine Killing Update (HUFF flyer) FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 11:08:44 -0800 (PST)

FWD from Robert Norse at "Bathrobespierre" <norse@netcom.com>
by Becky Johnson called "Unasked Questions in the Dine Investigation" and
possibly a third "Twisting the Testimony" may be following shortly.

Letter to the Metro Santa Cruz by Robert Norse 12/19/97

        Good for Celia Scott for making public and putting in the Main
Library documents that were part of the D.A.'s Investigation into the
John Dine killing.  Now we need a truly independent tribunal to hold full
public hearings and disclosure of all documents in the case.
        Santa Cruzans for Full Disclosure [SCfFD] formed shortly after
the retarded but innocuous Happy John Dine was killed on November
12th.   We called for public hearings and an independent review when it
seemed likely that a cover-up was in progress.  This conclusion seemed
hard to avoid since virtually every witness not associated with the
police contradicted the official story from the SCPD and the District
Attorney's office issued just 16 hours after Dine lay dying on the
sidewalk.  The SCPD itself rushed forward with its early Dine's toy gun
made me do its exoneration just three hours after the shooting.
        A day after Officer Carey killed John Dine, Police Chief Steve
Belcher and District Attorney Art Danner held a press conference,
restricted to invited media, that fleshed out the Justifiable Homicide
conclusion.  The two announced that Dine had a weapon in his hand, a
weapon pointed, a combat stance, and a threatening demeanor--and that all
witness testimony was consistent with these conclusions.
        This story is based on  the two witnesses whose accounts most
exonerated Officer Carey: the Catalyst bouncer Ben Newman and Carey's
partner, Martin Over.  Newman, in the back of the police car, made the
complaint that initiated the fatal sequence of events leading to Dine's
        Within days after the killing, eyewitnesses Alani Balawejder,
Stacey Buckelew, Mike Schultz, Tom Murphy, Larry Reddick, and eight
others agreed they saw nothing in Dine's hand, no threatening behavior,
nothing pointed at the police, and no combat stance.  The five named
witnesses went public with their accounts; Schultz, Buckelew, and Murphy
publicly used the word "murder" to describe Carey's actions.
        Released to the public on December 10th at Mayor Scott's order,
the D.A.'s report gives even more cause for concern. According to that
report, four additional witnesses (Lianna Forest, Leslie Plumblee,
Shannon Gannon, and Margaret Bonacker) watched the shooting and saw no
weapon in Dine's hand, much less a weapon pointed at the police.  In
addition, seven others--reluctant to come forward publicly--have told
SCFD that Dine was had nothing in his hands and nothing pointed at the
police when he was shot down. Are the two involved officers & a witness
friendly with the killer & hostile to Dine more credible than the many
independent eyewitness?
        Belcher and Danner think so.  The case remains closed.  Officer
Carey is on the beat with a weapon on his belt.  Chief Belcher cashes in
his monthly paycheck and perhaps a Christmas bonus in spite of what is
the clearest case of gross incompetence or outright misconduct in the
SCPD in a decade.  Even the public copy of the D.A.'s investigation is
incomplete: lacking Officer Carey's police report, a transcript of the
police radio transmissions, and Happy John's rap sheet, to name only
three crucial documents.  John Dine's ashes are all that is left of a
street person, who reported frequent harassment by the police downtown.
        The Santa Cruz County Sentinel meanwhile has wallowed in police
apologetics.  Its sudden editorial call for an independent investigation
(12/11) welcome as it was, was obviously forced on them by the public
disclosure of the police reports and witness testimony to the D.A..  Its
news stories were police/D.A. pap & PR hand-outs.  Within four days of
the shooting, it praised the police in 2 editorials lauding the police &
closed the case.
        The Sentinel delayed or buried critical letters on the shooting,
sidelined or deleted any mention of the massive swell of protest around
this case, and assigned a reporter (Karen Clark) so prejudiced against
street people like Happy John, and activists in Santa Cruzans for Full
Disclosure that she can't bring herself to interview them.   Neither
Clark, nor Bob Gammon, the previous Sentinel reporter on the case had
any interest in reviewing the videoed statements of the eyewitness
accounts of Buckelew, Schultz and others --who were shocked and outraged
at the media/police coverup.
        The Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB] showed similar timidity
and disinterest in the death of a street person.  The CPRB held no
emergency meeting in the weeks that followed the slaying.  No early or
independent investigation; and in spite of a room full of people, it
declined to go on record and vote on the matter.  Instead it held a brief
discussion on general rules to follow in the case of an independent
investigation, yet came up with no specific guidelines.  It concluded
the meeting by refusing to schedule a special public hearing on the Dine
case or even an early regular meeting.  Members of the public who want
open public hearings and an independent investigation on the Dine case
should attend its December 29th closed hearing and demand it be
        Uninterested in poor people's rights, the local ACLU has done
nothing.  It fell to people like Dine to speak up for the homeless.
Dine marched in a parade against police brutality and spent many hours
supporting homeless rights at the 7 1/2 month long City Hall Sleepers
Protest last year.  This year he received his reward--gift-wrapped by
the SCPD, the D.A., the Sentinel, and the Metro Santa Cruz.
        Non-police witnesses testified they heard Carey say "don't move"
after, not before the shots.   Three  claim they saw an officer (probably
Over), remove a weapon from Dine's clothing and throw it to the ground
where the toy gun was later found.
        Metro Santa Cruz's contribution to the quest for justice in the
Happy John Dine case so far (12/11) was a 11/19 Nuz column which
sympathetically remembered Dine & suggested  a full (but not
necessarily independent) investigation so that similar tragedies will be
avoided.  Eric Johnson--who wrote the column--then denounced me as a
"self-styled homeless activist" trying to churn up fear and anger around
this tragedy whose "hysterical paranoid provocations, polarize the
community and make the process more difficult".  His writing may also
have led readers to believe that I flooded Metro with e-mails, faxes, and
hostile phone calls--none of which happened.
        Officer Carey shot an innocent man dead.  All of us make mistakes
under pressure.  Was it justifiable homicide, murder, or something in
between?  Belcher and Danner had their answer ready early.  The rest of
us require a more careful examination and weighing of all the testimony.
Whatever the outcome of that investigation--whether Carey is exonerated
or implicated--repressing and misrepresenting evidence is still a
cover-up, behavior we cannot tolerate in police chief or district

Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom)  408-423-4833